Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement after President Obama’s announcement that he would expand deferred action for millions of undocumented immigrants:
“I strongly support the President’s executive action on deportation relief. This action is long overdue and will bring millions of undocumented immigrants out of the shadows. It will provide relief for many families and children living in constant fear of deportation by allowing for discretion to focus law enforcement resources on individuals who truly pose a risk to our communities. I’ve met many undocumented immigrants who are law-abiding fathers, mothers, and children who have lived in the United States the majority of their lives and have contributed greatly to communities. I do not believe these individuals should be deported or be forced to live in constant fear of being deported. This executive action is a good step, but millions of undocumented immigrants will continue to live in fear. To truly address our broken immigration system, Congress must pass a permanent comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill.
“Congressional inaction on this issue is incredibly frustrating because CIR has bipartisan support and could pass tomorrow if a vote were allowed in the House. Over a year ago, the Senate passed CIR with large bipartisan support and the House introduced a CIR bill shortly afterwards. This means that for well over a year, Congress has had the votes to pass landmark CIR with a pathway to citizenship. Shamefully, Speaker Boehner and House Republican leadership have refused a vote on the bill and obstructed the process for purely political reasons. In the meantime families and children have continued to be ripped apart by our broken immigration system.
“Both Republicans and Democrats agree that we must address the fact that 11 million undocumented immigrants are currently living in the shadows. However, House Republicans have not only failed to offer a plan to address this problem and obstructed legislation that does, they’ve also insisted on moving backwards with continued attempts to repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which provides deportation relief for DREAMers. The failures of Republican leadership have forced the President to use his legal authority to act. His executive action to provide relief for millions is well within his legal authority. There is a long list of Presidents who have used deferred deportation as a form of discretion, including Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush Obama is simply expanding the list of those who should receive deferred action and I commend him for doing so. In Congress, I have strongly advocated for deportation relief, reforms to our immigration detention policies, and for CIR. I will continue to do all I can to work with my colleagues to pass a meaningful CIR bill that keeps families together.”